News Story

78 Percent of Parents Plan to Buy Back-To-School Supplies at Brick-and-Mortar Stores

Posted on August 9, 2017

Junior Achievement USA Surveys of Parents and Teens Also Show Cost of School Supplies
Presents a Financial Challenge for Most Families

(Moline, IL) – A new survey from Junior Achievement USA (JA) shows that 78 percent of parents plan to buy their children’s back-to-school supplies at traditional retail outlets this year, with only 8 percent planning to do so online, and 13 percent responding “don’t know/not applicable.” In all, 60 percent of parents say that it is a challenge to afford school supplies, while 57 percent of teens say it is challenging for their parents or guardians to afford school supplies. Conversely, 40 percent of parents and 43 percent of teens say affording school supplies is not a challenge. The survey of 1,204 parents of school-aged children and 1,000 teens was conducted by ORC International for JA.

“Parents are often reluctant to discuss financial matters with their children, especially when it comes to providing for needs, like buying school supplies,” said Barbara VenHorst, President, JA of the Heartland.  “As these results show, teens are already attuned to these issues, and they present an opportunity for parents to discuss with their children the considerations that go into these kinds of purchases so that they gain a better understanding of how to manage these sorts of decisions when they reach adulthood.”

In all, 64 percent of parents expect to pay less than $500 per child on back-to-school items (clothes and school supplies), while 72 percent of teens expect their parents or guardians to pay less than $500. Only 17 percent of parents and 16 percent of teens expect that more than $500 will be paid, per-child, for school supplies. Parents and teens responding “do not know/not applicable” came out to 20 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

When it comes to buying school supplies, 58 percent of parents plan to buy them from discount stores, while 11 percent plan to buy from department stores. Office supply stores (5%), warehouse clubs (3%) and “other stores” (1%) are also on the list of places parents and guardians plan to shop.

This report presents the findings of ORC International's Online and Youth CARAVAN surveys conducted among a sample of 1,204 parents of school-aged children and 1,000 13-17 year olds.  These surveys were conducted live from June 29 to July 6, 2017, for the parents’ portion and from July 11 to July 16, 2017, for the teens’ portion.
Respondents for this survey are selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls.  Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated.  All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording, and response options.

About Junior Achievement
Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. Today, JA reaches more than 4.8 million students per year in 109 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.2 million students served by operations in 100 other countries worldwide. Junior Achievement USA is a member of JA Worldwide. Visit for more information.

Locally, Junior Achievement of the Heartland serves 24 counties in eastern Iowa, western Illinois and Grant County in Wisconsin. More than 57,000 kindergarten through high school students benefit from JA programs each year. Visit for more information.